If Baloo was a fish… (bream article, entry 94)

As we move slowly but surely into early summer, one thing that is very noticeable is that the days are getting longer, and therefore with just the same number of hours in a day – the nights are much shorter. With big bream on my gravel pit almost exclusively coming out during darkness, overnighters are much more preferable to two or three night stays. That way I can focus most of the session on a time when my chances of catching are at a maximum. And with specimen bream, you need to do what you can to tip the scales in your favour!

The swim that I have as my first choice doesn’t seem to be popular with the carp anglers. In fact in the sessions I have had on there, not once have I even seen a carp, let alone hook one. But that suits me, as I like to be focused on the species that I am targeting at that time. Arriving late in the afternoon, I did notice another angler’s car parked, but a quick glance across the pit confirmed that my swim was free.

With typical April weather of sunshine and showers competing for the top spot, the first thing I did was set up my shelter. Although rain doesn’t bother me (particularly when it is from the SW, it can even be a positive thing) it’s preferable to be dry rather than wet when fishing through the night. Once that was done, the next thing was to position the marker float and bait up. As I know the swim already, the purpose of the float is merely to indicate the plateau to which I intended to fish.

Once in place, I began the process of catapulting about thirty small balls of dead maggots and corn on the feature. Although I intended to be fairly accurate I didn’t want the bait all in one tight spot. After all, I was fishing two rods anyway, so wanted to spread it out a little, so that the fish, when they visited, would be kept busy rooting around for food. Letting things settle, within the hour I was ready to actually cast out and position my boilies in the chosen spot.

I always use back leads when fishing for bream or carp whenever possible. Some anglers prefer the line to go direct to the lead through the water but I feel confident knowing that it is pinned to the bottom. I am aware, particularly from e-mails that I receive that many anglers who read my Angling Journal are novices, so I will explain what a back lead is. The accompanying photograph shows a couple of the makes I use, but both are identical to all intents and purposes.

The main body is a lead weight (the one on the left is 1.5 ounces, the one on the right 1 ounce) and a rubber tube connects the lead to an attachment which has a break at some point allowing it to be clipped on to the line. This is done after casting out and before tightening up. By lifting the rod you can send the back lead out a good few metres, before putting the rod in the pod and carefully winding any slack line in. The line is now pinned to the bottom from the point that it reaches the lead to the rig. The rubber tube is important as a safety feature – if the lead ever gets snagged, it will come away when pressure is applied.

Once I had cast out, there was nothing else to do but to lie back and wait. You can do all that you can and then it’s down to the fish to do the rest! As there was football on the radio I listened to that, but as is often the case, I fell asleep, waking up after the game had actually finished! Dozing off again I was woken by a single bleep, followed a moment or two later by another. Standing over the rod, it’s a fantastic feeling to watch the swinger move up and down so slowly that it can only be a bream! And then striking into a fish and feeling a dead weight at the end, it’s nothing more than a case of reeling it in and netting it.

It’s funny how different thoughts go through our minds and as I was bringing the fish in, I was thinking about my Bedlington Terrier, who is named after the Jungle Book character Baloo! He is such a softie that I only have to speak sharply to him and he throws himself on the ground in submission. Therefore I decided that if Baloo was a fish he would be a bream. So the mystery of the title is revealed!

As for the fish itself, it proved to be the only one of the session, reinforcing the fact that the line between ‘success’ and ‘failure’ is indeed a thin one. It wasn’t as big as the fish caught in my previous bream session, but was still over 8lb. It all depends on the venue really, but that’s the minimum weight at which I would consider calling a fish a specimen. And certainly on the gravel pit I’m fishing, it’s a good weight for a bream.

Going back to sleep, I didn’t wake again until the dawn chorus. And what a sound it was. The area is absolutely rich in bird life and with so many species all singing together it was a real ornithological symphony. And as the day broke proper, lying on the bed chair staring out across the lake, I noticed that there were House and Sand Martins, Swifts and Swallows all catching insects above the water. And as their day began, so it was time for me to pack away and head for home to do some work myself.

(Originally published April 2005)

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